The Nazis identified Jews as a race and defined this race as “inferior.” They also spewed hate-mongering propaganda that unfairly blamed Jews for Germany’s economic depression and the country’s defeat in World War I. Between five and six million Jews - out of a Jewish population of nine million living in Europe - were killed during the Holocaust.
"I grew up knowing about the holocaust. At least I knew about the Jews and the holocaust, but I didn’t have any idea about what happened to homosexual men." Ken SetteringtonThe story of homosexuals during the Holocaust is one that’s often left untold, despite the fact that the pink triangle that they were forced to wear has become such a huge symbol for gay rights. Estimates for the number of homosexual prisoners is varied, ranging from 5,000 to 15,000.
“I was a nurse. They said a queer couldn’t be a nurse. Suppose I had to touch a patient’s penis! God forbid. They said rather than be a nurse, I should be a prisoner. A more suitable occupation. So. That’s how I got my pink triangle.” Bent, a play by Martin ShermanThis week Peter Tatchell has re-launched his campaign asking the Danish Government to apologise for protecting Danish Nazi SS Dr Carl Vaernet, who conducted the medical experiments on gay concentration camp prisoners.
"At Buchenwald concentration camp, SS physician Dr. Carl Vaernet performed operations designed to convert men to heterosexuals: the surgical insertion of a capsule which released the male hormone testosterone. Such procedures reflected the desire by Himmler and others to find a medical solution to homosexuality." Homosexuals: Victims of the Nazi Era, published by United States Holocaust Memorial MuseumThe method of Verne's operation was to insert an artificial gland containing the male hormone testosterone into the groin of the patient. The functional novelty of the "gland" was that it could release constant doses of hormone into the patient thereby enabling a therapy over a long period.
Vaernet was never prosecuted – together, the British and Danish Government allowed him to escape to Argentina. There he continued his research into the elimination of homosexuality.
Vaernet remained in Argentina until he died in 1965; living there with the full knowledge of the Danish and Allied authorities. They made no attempt to prosecute him for war crimes; possibly because they regarded his research to "cure" homosexuality as legitimate, even commendable.
This weekend will commemorate the 70th Anniversary of VE Day. Is it not time for an explanation as to why Værnet and his Danish protectors were shielded from prosecution?